Staying Connected: My Long Distance Relationship with Berkeley

 

dorm window with heart made of sticky notesNo one expected this.

No one ever expected to be sent home mid-semester in March. However, life is unpredictable and we have to be ready to face the unknown whether we want to or not. In these uncertain times, nothing can be counted on. However, Berkeley and its communities have made it a point to be a reliable source of companionship, communication, and hope for the future. 

I am an out-of-state student, currently residing in South Florida. One thing I was worried about when going back home to take classes online was losing my connection to the Berkeley community. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much each community I’m apart of took the initiative to stay connected with its members. 

From the quick adaptation a completely new online tour system to the implementation of fun bonding events at staff meetings like the Halloween costume contest, UC Berkeley Ambassador team has completely surpassed every expectation known to man. When I applied for this job, I didn’t realize just how crucial it would be in keeping me a part of the overall Berkeley atmosphere, even being miles away. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial, but there’s genuinely nothing like meeting with a group of devoted students three times a week to give or listen to the history, resources, accomplishments and spirit of Cal.

Me wearing a Berkeley shirt holding up a Cal hat

If you’ve taken a tour, you probably heard your two tour guides give their “Berkeley Story”, or the story that made them choose Berkeley and how they got here. Hearing about the hard work, passion and drive that got these ambassadors to this hub of change and benefit reminds me why I’m here and that hope for the future exists. I also get to hear about how our campus is making a difference in the world today for social justice movements, climate change and trial testing for COVID-19. It makes me proud to be a golden bear. 

A Berkeley Squirrel!Not only do I get to hear the stories of times on campus at Berkeley, but I also get to see photos and 360-degree gifs of campus that help me to appreciate the scenery, atmosphere, and of course, the brave squirrels. 

Aside from being a campus ambassador, I’m also the lead business and economy reporter for the Daily Californian, our university newspaper. Being a part of the news team has been an enriching experience. I get to improve my article writing skills,  work on concise writing, and create friendships between students with similar interests. We have weekly meetings on Fridays where we recap the week and play Kahoot and other games!

Over the summer, I wrote a long-term story for the Daily Californian on small businesses in Berkeley and how they were faring during the pandemic. Having the opportunity to speak to these dedicated small business owners was priceless. I spoke to the owner of a small French restaurant in Elmwood called Le Bateau Ivre. She was an older woman who opened the place with her late husband. She pours her heart and soul into the place and I could tell that from eating there pre-covid and experiencing the restaurant myself. It’s located in a house and she decorates it up for each holiday. I also spoke with the owner of Games of Berkeley, a popular gaming shop on Durant Ave. We spoke for over an hour. Every single business owner I spoke with was grateful to speak with me and share their stories. I feel connected to not only the students but those who have lived their lives here in the unique city of Berkeley. Even though I couldn’t be there in person, Zoom and the internet allow me to build my own bridge to Berkeley. In the words of the great Miley Cyrus, “you’ll always find your way back home”

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Author: Dina Katgara

I'm an incoming sophomore from South Florida majoring in English and minoring in Journalism. I am a news reporter for The Daily Californian and I love cats!